Have you seen the latest drug commercial? You know, the one where the guy is
walking down a spiral stair case with numbers printed on each step gradually
going lower. Heís talking about how your doctors have told you that now you
need to get your cholesterol even lower than you did before. Itís a myth; and
a dangerous one at that.
Letís start with just a bit of very basic biology.
What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is part of a group of compounds called
sterols. Cholesterol is primarily produced by the liver, however, every cell
in the human body is also capable of making cholesterol.
What is the role of cholesterol? Cholesterol is used by the body to form
cholic acid which is then used to make bile salts. Bile salts are necessary to
digest fat. In addition, cholesterol is necessary for the production of
adrenal and reproductive hormones such as DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone,
testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is also used to
make the skin impervious to water and other substances that may be harmful to
the body as well as to bind with toxins in the blood which will then reduce
inflammation protecting the nerves, brain tissue and heart.
Biology lesson over. We can now understand why cholesterol is important. So
why has it been give such a bad rap?
The myth started when scientists determined that there was a correlation
between cholesterol in the blood and heart disease. If you had the wonderful
opportunity to take any sort of research classes in school, you might remember
that a correlation doesnít mean anything. It simply means two things are
present at the same time. This is like circumstantial evidence, just because
someone is found holding the gun, doesnít mean they pulled the trigger.
Working to lower cholesterol as a way to treat heart disease is kind of like
getting a bunion removed because you have a headache.
Itís important to note that cholesterol levels that are too high should be
addressed. But what is too high? It used to be that what were considered
normal were readings between 0 and 200. Anything above 200 was said to
indicate heart disease. This was recently lowered to 0 to 169. But why was it
lowered? Statistics show that heart disease rates are not improving. Despite
statin drugs that are designed to lower cholesterol, people are still dying of
heart attacks and more and more individuals are being diagnosed with some form
of heart disease. The drug manufacturers certainly donít want to admit that
their drugs arenít working as intended (even though they are somewhat
successful at lowering cholesterol), so they decide that itís because the
cholesterol levels are not low enough. If they drop the normal ranges, then
they can sell more drugs and pass the buck for the continuing trend of heart
The natural health experts are still out but there seems to be an unwritten
agreement that levels between 175 and 230 are ideal. Levels below 150 or above
250 may indicate the need for more attention but do not necessarily indicate
heart disease. There are better methods for determining the risk of heart
disease; the ratio between LDL and HDL for example. Better yet is a test
gaining popularity and much media attention for something called C-reactive
Protein. While it isnít healthy to have extremely high cholesterol, it also
isnít healthy to have very low cholesterol.
A short word about statin drugs
Despite no scientific evidence showing that statin drugs reduce the risk of
heart disease and despite evidence that they are not as successful in the real
world for treating cholesterol as they had shown to be in the studies, statin
drugs are one of the most commonly over-prescribed drugs in the US. Statins
have many side effects, including increasing the risk for heart disease.
Statins deplete CoQ10, an important co-enzyme for cardiac health. In addition
they lower antioxidant levels, cause headaches, fatigue, memory loss,
difficulty sleeping, and, of course, liver damage.
Itís important to be proactive with your health. Donít let your doctors be the
complete authority just as you wouldnít trust the salesman to give you all the
details when making a large purchase. Do your own homework.
Nicole Bandes is a Certified Herb Specialist that has been helping others to
regain their health and vitality since 1999. Nicoleís weekly blog is a "Dear
Abbey" style blog that allows her to share her knowledge to simple questions
regarding the use of natural supplements and keep her readers educated on the
latest news regarding natural supplements.
- Name: Nicole Bandes, Certified Herb Specialist
- Date: 08/18/05 at 19:06
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